Saturday, December 20, 2014

I'll be home for Christmas...

 Hundreds of Christmas piñatas for sale at a market in Atlixco, Puebla

It is only fitting that my last day in Mexico before Christmas was a beautiful sunny day. I will definitely miss being able to stroll through outdoor markets all day without a coat while I am home for the next two weeks.

Despite not having Christmassy weather, Mexico is still aglow with holiday cheer. I had the opportunity to visit the small town of Atlixco in Puebla to see their annual holiday lights festival last weekend, which was very quaint and cozy. 

Sunset view from one of the prominent churches in Atlixco, Puebla

 Festival de luces en Atlixco, Puebla

Christmas piñatas dangle from ceilings in nearly every store in Mexico Cit, each of their seven points representing one of the 7 capital sins. When people break the piñatas during the holidays, they can be forgiven and start anew with a clean slate. 

All of the piñatas

I also saw a free Christmas concert at my church, featuring traditional Christmas songs from Mexico, the US and other Latin American countries. Even the Endeavor Mexico office put up a Christmas tree!

Christmas concert at the Santa Rosa de Lima parish in La Condesa
I am still in shock that Christmas has come so fast. I have lived in Mexico City 6 months now, but it feels simultaneously like an eternity and a split second.

While cleaning some files from my computer this week, I stumbled upon a video I recorded nearly a year ago while practicing for my oral Spanish major examination in college. I had recorded myself speaking in Spanish to practice before the oral exam. Visibly struggling for words, I paused a lot, hesitant to make mistakes, and sported an accent not quite American but not quite Spanish either. After watching this old video, I decided to try something. Out of curiosity, I opened up my webcam on the spot and decided to record another little Spanish tidbit to compare it to the one I had found. When I played it back I couldn’t stop a wide grin from spreading across my face: I sounded like a completely different person. This new Spanish-speaker spoke confidently and fluidly in a nearly-Mexican accent. I replayed the first video again and heard my past-self saying, “Quiero practicar para hablar español con fluidez…esto es mi meta…” and I couldn’t help but saying out-loud to myself, still grinning wildly from ear to ear ,“Ya lo lograste.” 

That unexpected glimpse from the past reminded me of how far I have come and all I have learned this year. I graduated college, earned a fellowship, moved to a foreign country on my own, met new friends, and created a life for myself here that is making me sad to leave, even for only 2 weeks.
I have learned more than I could ever have imagined about business strategy, entrepreneurship, translating, Mexican culture, and myself. Remembering the first company profiles I wrote when I arrived at Endeavor Mexico in July, I realize that previously foreign business plan concepts are now completely familiar to me. During my first interviews with entrepreneurs and mentors I was shy and quiet, whereas now I find myself comfortable talking with mentors and entrepreneurs alike. Every profile I write expands my Spanish vocabulary, the elation of discovering new words never getting old. And I have even begun offering private English lessons to a handful of professionals and children; seeing their interest in learning a new language and watching them slowly improve brings me great happiness to help others along a second-language journey similar to my own. I will probably end up saying things like “Buenos días” and “Provecho” to people in New York by accident, as those everyday phrases have become second nature to me. And I have finally found a routine yoga practice, something I had always been interested in but never had the time to explore before.

 Spontaneous dancing at Guadalajara de Noche in Plaza Garibaldi

Part of me can’t wait to be back home, enjoying Christmas traditions amidst everything safe and familiar, but there is another part that is eager for the further adventures and discoveries that await me upon my return to Mexico City in January. I look forward to more unexpected surprises, like yesterday when I stumbled across a bunch of alebrijes (traditional Mexican art taking the shape of imaginary animal creations) on display after the 8th annual alebrijes parade and competition from the Museo de arte popular on December 13th.

 Some of my favorite alebrijes

I wish everyone reading this a very Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year – thank you for all of your support from near and far! ¡Hasta luego, México - nos vemos pronto!

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